Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 Aug 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 Aug 2017


 

Paper 1:

 

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

70-ft Buddha statue to adorn tourist project in Ghantasala

 

To develop Ghantasala village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh as one of the prime Buddhist tourist spots in the State, decks have been cleared for the construction of a Rs. 1.5-crore project, which envisages construction of 70- ft statue of Buddha.

mahaparinirvana

Mahaparinirvana:

A two-storied structure in Buddhist architecture resembling a pedestal with a 100-ft wide and 70-ft high Budha in the Mahaparinirvana posture will be a major highlight. The new facility will be themed on the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha. In Buddhism, Mahaparinirvana means the ultimate state — everlasting, highest peace and happiness — entered by an Awakened Being (Buddha).

 

Significance of reclining Buddha:

On top of the two-storey structure will be an imposing statue of the reclining Buddha. This is a major iconographic and statuary pattern of Buddhism. It represents the historical Buddha during his last illness, about to enter the Mahaparinirvana. It shows Buddha lying on the right flank, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow, supporting his head with his hand. This pattern seems to have emerged at the same time as other representations of the Buddha in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara.

 

About Ghantasala:

Ghantasala, known as Katakasila in the ancient times, was a renowned Buddhist centre located near the coast. Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, had made a specific mention of an emporium of Kontakossyla in the region of Misolia (present Machilipatnam).

Initially, the archaeological significance of Ghantasala was reported by Boswel in 1870-71 and the site was subsequently subjected to excavations by Alexander Rea which brought out the stupa architecture in detail.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Ministry of Defence approves delegation of Powers to Border Roads Organisation

 

The Ministry of Defence has decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) right upto the level of Chief Engineer and Task Force Commander, so as to avoid delays.

BRO

Need for more powers:

Transformational changes are necessary in the organization in order to improve the pace of execution of works and to achieve the desired outcomes according to the requirement of the Armed Forces.

It is expected that with delegation of powers by the Ministry of Defence to the BRO, the pace of road construction in border areas would improve and the BRO would be able to complete ongoing/new projects in compressed timelines.

 

About BRO:

Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.

  • It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
  • Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Highways authority unveils mobile apps to facilitate FASTags for e-tolling

 

The National Highways Authority of India has come out with two mobile apps – MyFASTag and FASTag Partner – as part of its efforts to facilitate availability of the tag towards electronic toll payment.

  • MyFASTag is a consumer app that can be downloaded from both Android and iOS app stores. A consumer can purchase or recharge FASTags on this app, which also helps keep track of transactions and provides for online grievance redressal.
  • FASTag Partner is a merchant app.

The government is also working on making lanes of all 371 NHAI toll plazas FASTag enabled from October 1 this year.

 

What is FASTag?

It is a device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to it.

  • It is affixed on the windscreen of vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without waiting.
  • The tag has a validity of 5 years and after purchase, it only needs to be recharged or topped up. The service is applicable to all kinds of vehicles but use of the service is currently voluntary.

 

How is it beneficial?

It helps quicken passage through toll barriers and helps avoid use of cash. Long queues of vehicles waiting while cumbersome cash transactions happen at the counter can be avoided. Here, it helps reduce use of fuel and pollution due to high waiting-times at the barriers.

It can also help the government identify the quantum of road use and types of vehicles passing through, aiding budgets for road widening and other infrastructure expenses. Theoretically, it could help increase accruals to the government as some operators managing toll plazas have, in the past, have been suspected of under reporting their revenues.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Bio-diversity.

2 New Earthworm Species Found In Kerala

Earthworms

Scientists have discovered two new primitive species of earthworm in the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala. They have named the new earthworm species Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi.

  • There had been sixteen Drawida species known from the state with ten of them being unique. The present discovery of two new species and five new local records further contributes to the vast species richness of the genus in Kerala.

 

About Drawida polydiverticulata:

For Drawida polydiverticulata, its multiple lobes, also called diverticulums – an organ located in the front of its body – are unique amongst the members of the genus. This species was found to be widespread in the protected shola grasslands of the Munnar region, including Eravikulam National Park, Pampadun Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, researchers said.

 

About Drawida thomasi:

The second new earthworm, Drawida thomasi, was collected at the Kozhippara Waterfalls near Kakkadampoyil, at the border between Malappuram and Kozhikode.

 

Background:

To date, there are 73 species of the genus Drawida confirmed to be living in the Indian subcontinent. However, the greatest concentration (43 species) is found in the Western Ghats. The genus has an important centre of speciation in Kerala.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Artificial intelligence imperils India Inc jobs

 

Technology leaders are drumming up the thought that the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are going to be the new drivers of employment, especially for India’s $150 billion information technology (IT) industry that now employs about four million people.

 

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence comes from computer systems that have been programmed to — or have learnt to — do tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Many apps and software are already making mundane work easier by doing a certain part of it for us, based on acquired intelligence.

 

Concerns associated:

Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it’s 77% in China, according to a World Bank research. The transition is expected to happen in a decade, according to experts. Therefore, if automation is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making.

 

New opportunities:

While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cybersecurity, cloud, big data, machine learning and AI. The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cybersecurity. It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.

 

Way ahead:

AI is a complex subject; it would be simplistic to look at it as all bad or all good. But robots and AI taking away middle-class, manufacturing jobs in the not-so-distant future is a very real prospect that will have to be addressed by governments sooner than they probably think.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

New state of matter discovered

 

Scientists have discovered a potential new state of matter that may help explain phenomena like superconductivity.

 

About the new state- electronic nematic state:

The high-magnetic-field state of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5 revealed a so-called electronic nematic state.

  • In the new state, the material’s electrons are aligned in a way to reduce the symmetry of the original crystal, something that now appears to be universal among unconventional superconductors.
  • The appearance of the electronic alignment, called nematic behavior, in a prototypical heavy-fermion superconductor highlights the interrelation of nematicity and unconventional superconductivity, suggesting nematicity to be common among correlated superconducting materials.

 

Background:

A nematic state is most well known in liquid crystals, wherein the molecules of the liquid are parallel but not arranged in a periodic array. Nematic-like states have been observed in transition metal systems near magnetic and superconducting phase transitions. The occurrence of this property points to nematicity’s correlation with unconventional superconductivity. The difference, however, of the new nematic state found in CeRhIn5 relative to other systems is that it can be easily rotated by the magnetic field direction.

 

What is superconductivity?

Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic flux fields occurring in certain materials, called superconductors, when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. The phenomenon is largely used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particle accelerators, magnetic fusion devices, and microwave filters.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Worlds smallest surgical robot created

 

Scientists in the UK have developed the worlds smallest surgical robot with low-cost technology used in mobile phones and space industries. The robot is called Versius. The robot is controlled by a surgeon at a console guided by a 3D screen in the operating theatre.

 

Functions performed by the robot:

It mimics the human arm and can be used to carry out a wide range of procedures in which a series of small incisions are made to circumvent the need for traditional open surgery. These include hernia repairs, colorectal operations, as well as prostate, ear, nose and throat surgery.

 

Benefits:

  • The robot is much easier to use than existing systems, and take up about a third of the space of current machines.
  • It works like a human arm and contains technology that detects resistance to make sure the right amount of force is used when the instruments are inside the patient. Such procedures reduce complications and pain after surgery and speed up recovery time for patients.

 

Sources: the hindu.